Next year, Cobbers in the Concordia Band will have a chance to break down barriers with music in the 2016 May international band tour to Spain.
Dr. Peter Haberman, director of bands and conductor of the Concordia Band, has a local connection with a former student who now lives in Lliria, Spain, near Valencia. The former student performs in a local group called La Banda Primitiva de Lliria.
Haberman’s connection helped Spain become the destination of the next international band tour. It will also be Haberman’s first international tour with Concordia.
“The Valencia region of Spain has a huge concert band tradition,” Haberman said. Music is not in the school system, but is rather a regional after school tradition. Typically, kids pick an instrument around 8-years-old, and the music tradition is so strong that 15 percent of adults in the area play instruments regularly.
“I would love for our students to see the culture and community through music making,” Haberman said, adding that the concert band connection adds to the experience. “I love the cultural side of what we are trying to do so we are not just being tourists.”
The tour will last two weeks and will cost around $4,000. Concordia won’t be helping students do any fundraising.
While the trip is exclusively for Concordia Band members and is also extra incentive for instrumentalists not in the Concordia Band to practice extra hard for next year, it is not a requirement of being in the band to travel to Spain.
“It’s going to be a very diverse and interesting experience,” said Tina Lee, a freshman Symphonic Band member. Lee added that two things will influence her going: getting into the Concordia Band and paying for the trip in addition to “affordia” (affording Concordia).
The tour will include five performances as well as numerous cultural experiences, including a Flamenco dinner show, a visit to the San Lorenzo palace, a walk through the Generalife Gardens, a homestay, and possibly even a bull fight at the El Ventas bull-fighting ring.
“Maybe we can even get Dr. H to get out there and be a matador,” said Kent Loken, associate administrator and manager of instrumental ensembles at Concordia, who is also very involved in the planning of the trip.
“It’s a privilege for me,” Loken said, “because I get to help put together tours that are going to have a lifelong impact on the students—well, and me too—and be a part of making this trip to Spain a reality. What I like to do is to make sure you get your money’s worth.”
This May, Loken and Haberman will go to Spain on a preview tour to look at hotels and performance venues to help prepare for any potential issues at the different sites.
Loken recalled the novelty of a previous experience with the Concordia Band abroad in their 2012 China tour.
Four years ago in China, a packed audience listened attentively as the Concordia Band played there entire repertoire. As the concert ended, four Concordia students got up unannounced, left the concert area, went to the lobby, and started playing polka music.
“It was just mind boggling,” Loken said. “All of a sudden the excitement just ramped up.” Concordia students and staff then began polka dancing.
“Next thing you know we were inviting some of the Chinese students to come polka with us,” Loken said. “You’ve got this whole room filled with energy and enthusiasm and excitement with all of these people polka-ing. It was great.”
“It’s amazing when you think of the power of music,” Loken said. “All of a sudden, there’s no barriers and everybody’s just there dancing because you’ve got these four kids who said, ‘I think we’ll bring our polka band.’”
Loken also described a concert experience in Palestine with the Concordia Orchestra in 2014: “They [Palestinians] performed their music on their instruments, we performed our concert, and then they were able to… do a piece that incorporated our orchestra and their group together. It was amazing.”
“How do you put into words the feeling you’re feeling when you’re just sharing music together and you’re just thinking of each other as people and musicians, not as Americans and Palestinians?” Loken said. “You’re not defined by where you’re from, you’re just defined as a person who plays music.”
This article was submitted by Reilly Myklebust, contributing writer.